People have strong feelings about Valentine’s Day, for or against. On the one hand, the holiday was probably invented by Hallmark to sell cards. On the other hand, I love celebrations of any kind. Personally, I stand firmly in the “Pro” camp. What could be wrong about tell the special people in your life that you love them? I buy cards and send them to family and friends (don’t be offended if you didn’t get one – I limit myself to one package each year). For Howard, I buy a special card, and we make a nice dinner that starts off with Champagne.
There are so many recipes to choose from, in the books on my bookshelves, the magazines in piles, the recipes I’ve clipped, recommendations from my sisters, and the resources across the Internet. Now that I’m back on the “Cook the Book” train with Cook the Book Fridays, the choice for a few meals each month is simplified.
This week’s recipe from David Leibovitz’s My Paris Kitchen offered the perfect idea for a romantic dinner for two. Steak Frites au Beurre de Moutarde – in English, Steak with mustard butter and French fries. Because I’m scared of deep-frying, I was wary of the accompanying French fries, but upon reading the recipe, learned they were oven fries. Russet potatoes are cut in to French-fry-sized batons, tossed with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh herbs, then baked until crispy.
Meanwhile, rib-eye steak is seasoned with smoked salt, chipotle pepper and fresh parsley, then seared to perfection in a cast-iron pan. The piping hot steaks are served with dollops of compound mustard butter, made with both Dijon and dry mustard powder. To round out the meal, I made this delicious recipe for tahini-roasted broccoli from Food52.
What a winning combination for a relatively simple, yet restaurant-worthy meal! I’m excited to know how to make really great fries without frying too. There’s some leftover mustard butter so I’m curious if anyone has suggestions to use it up.
I have to mention dessert too. I’ve long been a fan of molten chocolate cake. The recipe for Deep-Dark-Chocolate Pudding Cakes from Joanne Chang’s newest book Baking with Less Sugar is my new favorite recipe. It’s to die for!!!!
To read all about my friends’ steak dinners, check out their links here.
Due to copyright considerations, I don’t share the recipe here. You can find it on pages 206 (steak) and 219 (frites) of David Leibovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Or feel free to drop me a line and I’ll share it with you.
Fall doesn’t officially start for another week or so. How does the weather just know? I know, I know. Its nature, and there’s a cycle to the seasons. But as soon as Labor Day weekend is over, there is a noticeable nip in the air that says “summer’s coming to an end”.
The arrival of apples at the farm stands and farmers market says it too. We picked up a bag of Red Gravenstein apples. These are tart and sweet, good for cooking and eating. It’s one of the old-fashioned apples that you don’t see much anymore. Gravensteins are a particular variety that my father remembers from his own childhood, not from some bucolic farm experience, but something his produce seller father (my grandfather) used to bring home in late summer. My dad’s memories of these apples are strong, and he has (mostly unsuccessfully) sought them out. I’ve been slightly more successful. This year, I saw an ad in the local Maine paper, we so stopped by Sweetser’s Apple Barrel and bought a bag.
Closer to home, as of last week, the caramel apples at Wilson Farm are in. These are my fall indulgence. Who can resist a juicy, crisp apple enrobed in caramel and then rolled in chopped peanuts? I know I can’t. I limit myself to one a week, and I savor it by cutting it into quarters and eating it over several days. So, so good!
As the end of summer rapidly approaches, we are making the most of the corn and tomatoes, and the grill. We are a “charcoal” house, so once the weather gets cold, outdoor cooking ends until spring. It’s just too hard to keep the fire going when you’re fighting with the weather. We talk about getting a gas grill to use in the winter, but never seem to justify it. There is still another month or so to grill outside, but the days are numbered.
Howard grilled a top round steak from Chestnut Farm. It was a little chewy, not the most tender cut of meat, but tasty. It was a big steak, too big for one meal. With the leftovers, I made this Latin-flavored salad that we always enjoy.
Latin-Flavored Steak Salad
Adapted from The Thrill of the Grill by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
1 – 2 cups (or more) diced leftover steak, ½-inch cubes
½ cup diced red onion
5 – 6 scallions, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
10 – 12 radishes, halved, then sliced thin
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed well
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lime juice
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ Tbsp Tabasco
Place steak, onions, scallions, peppers, radishes, black beans, and cilantro in a large bowl.
In a jar, make the dressing by combining olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and Tabasco. Shake it until combined well.
Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.